Farm story brings back memories for many

Farm story brings back memories for many

Paul Angell and Charles Angell work Valley View Farm in Ashton back in 1920.

CUMBERLAND – A story last week on the town’s rich farming history, including a request for additional feedback and names of other farms, drew many responses from readers about their own experiences.

Glenn McCusker said he’s been living in Wakefield since 1989, but grew up in Cumberland and lived here through his 30s, graduating from Cumberland High School in 1967. He remembers students on sports teams at that time being referred to as “the farmers.”

The house McCusker grew up in was on Liberty Street, with a yard backing up to Bradley’s Farm.

“My friends and I had a lot of interaction with the ‘Bradley boys,’ so many memories and stories, it was a great time growing up there,” he said. “As a youngster, my mother would send me over to the farm for milk and eggs if we ran out from their regular deliveries. I was scared to death to go through that squeaky gate because I knew it would alert the herd of dogs they kept on the property.”

In his teenage years, he would go haying with them.

The town’s farming community as a whole started to change rapidly when Route 295 went in, said McCusker.

“It cut the town in half, taking away farm land that eventually developed into the bedroom community it is today,” he said.

McCusker’s father owned Cumberland Realty, and his mom owned Blanche’s Beauty Salon, sharing the space above the old Valley Falls Post Office on Broad Street.

Joni Robert said her grandparents, Ernest and Alice Barlow, owned a family farm on Howard Road, off Abbott Run Valley Road. Their land abutted Carpenter’s Apple Farm when 295 hadn’t been built.

With a family of five children and a grandparent living with them, her grandfather worked at Old Stone Bank. Her grandmother, her father and the children managed the farm during the day.

“They had cows, pigs, chickens and huge gardens for canning and fields for haying,” said Robert.

Ruth Bascombe said she loved how Arthur Angell was able to recall so many of the old farms for last week’s article. She noted that there was also Ballou Farm on Mendon Road, running behind where the Dollar Tree is now, and Luther Ray’s farm on Mendon Road behind McDonald’s. There were also Hines Farm and Bonnie Brook Farm.

Fran Carr said another two farms belonged to her two sets of parents. Her father’s family farm was on Burnt Swamp Road, the Lewicki family dairy farm, and her mother’s family, the Szymanskis, had a farm on Scott Road next to Ashton School, which was built on part of the farm.

Arthur Angell noted that The Breeze missed one of the chicken farms on his list, the Rawson farm, and Mike Crook said there was also Krugler’s chicken farm.

“I worked there feeding the chickens,” he said. “There were three floors and three annexes/wings, so nine bays. Every 22 weeks, the chickens were sent to processing and after cleaning the bays, the side of the building opened and the bedding was shoved out and new bedding blown in.”

Jay Hoey mentioned there was also Metcalf Farm, covering much of the land now containing St. John Vianney Church.

Paul Guerard said he moved to Cumberland Hill as a 4-year-old in 1940. He noted that there were also many small “home” farms in addition to the bigger names.

“I vividly recall Mr. Poguski’s small yard with cows, chickens, geese and ducks,” he said. “He had a large hand-drawn hay wagon for haying in the open fields nearby.”

In late World War II, Guerard had a small wooden wagon used for his local garbage route to feed his six pigs.

Guerard’s home was located where Vivian Avenue meets Mendon Road. Behind his family lived the Monteiro family, down the street were the Leclercs, and slightly up the hill were the Shermans.

“I served as Mrs. Sherman’s gardener for many years. Her husband Archie had a small family egg business,” he said. “I will never forget my first attendance at a wake in World War II. It was in the Sherman family room with a flag-draped casket background by a bare two-by-four unfinished wall, Mr. and Mrs. Sherman bent over in grief at the loss of a son.”